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It’s Friday, Feb. 17: So, how about this weather? While this week broke no records, last month came awfully close to being the warmest January on record. Any guesses on how far back I had to go to find a warmer one? Hint: Most readers will not remember. Also, the Borough will take its Stream Protection fee battle to the PA Supreme Court but in the meantime, tax-exempt entities are off the hook for the fee. Are residents going to have to close the gap? The Borough is hoping not. And every college student’s favorite pizza joint is coming back! Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
So, How About This Weather?
On Wednesday, my 8-year-old called down from his room, “Can I wear shorts today?” It’s hard to enforce the “no shorts in winter” rule when the temperatures have routinely hit above 50 degrees. That same day temperatures would hit 64 in West Goshen, according to Weather Channel data. On a lunchtime walk, I was passed by a runner in a tank top and shorts. So many kids have been visiting Everhart Park that the Friends of Everhart Park are exploring supplying a Porta Potty for the months the bathrooms are closed (October 5 – April 27).
While this week’s weather has been unseasonably warm, the average high this time of year is 42, it is by no means record-breaking. Around this time last year, it hit 72, and even last month we saw temps reach up to 67 degrees. What has been unusual is the overall mildness of the winter weather so far. I dug through decades of weather data and it turns out, not since 1950 have we seen a January so warm.
The average temperature last month was 40.71 degrees. 2006 came close with an average recorded temperature of 40.32 degrees, but it wouldn’t be until January in 1950 that I found a monthly average temperature higher than we’ve seen this year. In 1950 the average January temperature was a balmy 42.23 However, in both those cases cold weather rebounded in February when average temps dropped to 32.57 (1950) and 35 (2006). So far that does not appear to be the case this February. Current temperatures are averaging above 40 and, after dropping on Saturday, temperatures again look to be in the upper 50s next week.
It’s Plan B for West Chester’s Stream Protection Fee
Update: An earlier version of this story stated tax exempt proprities were now exempt from having to pay the Borough stream protection fee however, this is not the case. “Nothing has changed until the Pa. Supreme Court hears the case. Business as usual,” Borough Council Member Bernie Flynn clarified in an email.
In 2016 West Chester Borough introduced a Stream Protection fee; the funds would go to support the Borough’s state-mandated stormwater management requirements. The fee is levied against all landowners in the Borough with known impervious property. However, West Chester University said, hold on, wait a minute, this does not feel like a fee to me. Instead, they believed the collection of money was just a law in disguise and, as a tax-exempt entity, they need not pay. The Borough disagreed and sued.
Unfortunately, the court did not see it the Borough’s way. In a decision that could have widespread implications across the state, the seven-member Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled the fees collected by the Borough were not done “by choice” or applied to a specific project directly benefiting the payee (a fee) but rather a general benefit the community (tax) and upheld the University’s ability not to pay those outstanding invoices.
So, what’s next for the Borough?
According to several sources, the Borough has decided to appeal the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This loss of revenue could cause a serious blow to the program and its required actions (remember undertaking these improvement projects is state-mandated).
“Grants will be a big part of filling that missing revenue going forward if the Supreme Court doesn’t see the case our way,” said Sustainability Director Will Williams at Tuesday night’s Borough Council Working Session. The Borough submitted for over $1 million in grant funding in 2023. It is also exploring other changes to the program including increasing commercial credit requirements.
The full extent of the revenue loss is not yet known. Getting an accurate count of tax-exempt properties in the borough is not as straightforward as it may seem. While a tenant of a property may be tax-exempt, that does not necessarily mean the property owner is. What we do know is the loss will be in the six figures with West Chester University’s contributions alone estimated at $132,000 a year.
“A lots of good questions and we are thinking about them already,” Will told Borough Council. No word yet on when an appeal case could be heard.
While Valentine’s Day usually is associated with a dozen roses and several boxes of chocolates, it also brings the emotions of care and true love to the table. During the month of February, join us in protecting the ones you love by giving the gift of life insurance.
Some people often wonder, “Why exactly do I need life insurance?”. Here are the top 5 reasons you should invest in life insurance this month:
- Guaranteed Protection: Ensures your loved ones are able to maintain the lifestyle they’re accustomed to.
- Income Replacement: Life insurance can replace the income you would usually bring in and help support your family.
- Small Business Support: A life insurance policy can keep a business moving along even during tough times.
- Retirement Plans: Life insurance can help support a surviving spouse during their retirement.
- Funeral Costs: A life insurance policy can easily cover the cost of a funeral and alleviate the extra stress.
Love them even when you’re gone – protect your loved ones with life insurance that is as personal as your relationships and more affordable than you think! Learn more by contacting Miller’s Insurance.
Nothing to see here. On Thursday prior to the Super Bowl, West Chester Police Chief James Morehead issued a written warning to residents and students (mostly students) regarding weekend activities. “Should you behave in a way that warrants the intervention of the police,” the letter read, “you will face potential criminal liability and your name shared with the Dean of Students for appropriate discipline.” As it turned out, neither letter, nor the additional patrols, were necessary. No arrests were reported during the game with only a single incident of drunk driving reported afterwards. Even Barstool Sports couldn’t scrounge up a decent video of stupid behavior. It appears we internalized the pain.
Trade safe. Score a deal on Facebook Marketplace but not comfortable meeting a random person at their or your house? Westtown-East Goshen Police department has set aside two parking spaces in front of their headquarters for safe trading. The spaces which are under 24-hour video surveillance are open for use Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This story is beginning to sound all too familiar. This week West Chester University student Patrick James Dreyer of Concord, PA was charged with rape after allegedly forcing a woman upstairs during a Sept. 3 party at the Sigma Pi fraternity house and having sex with her while she was passed out. A member of the fraternity, Mr. Dreyer has been suspended since September when news of the incident first broke on social media. “We do not condone or tolerate any harassment or violence against women committed by our members,” the group wrote in a post. The fraternity is currently renting space at 511 S. Walnut Street.
Avoid the following area. Last week Aqua began work to replace 560 feet of a waterline main on W. Gay Street from Wayne to New Street. The project is part of an infrastructure improvement project Aqua is working on in the county. The new piping should help reduce the potential for breaks or leaks in the future. Construction is set to take place between 7am and 4 pm. Expect closures and delays during this time. And for those of you keeping tabs on Borough road conditions, the road will be patched at the end of each work day but final repaving is not expected until spring.
We’re ending with some good news. We learned last week the 21-year-old victim of last month’s High Street shooting would most certainly have perished right there in front of the historic Courthouse were it not for the quick actions of West Chester Police Officer Aaron Davis. The officer knowing time was of the essence loaded the victim into his vehicle and drove him directly to Chester County Hospital where doctors immediately got to work. Unfortunately, despite this near-best case scenario, the victim remains in extremely critical condition. “I felt the need to tell the details of this event to show the good that police do,” Chief James Morehead told Daily Local reporter Bill Rettew.
It wasn’t a sweep for West Chester Area School District elementary schools but three of the ten made the Niche.com list of 100 best elementary schools in Pennsylvania. Congratulations to Glen Acres, Exton, and East Goshen which came in at #83, 84, and 99 respectively. Despite not being considered among the best of the best, most district elementary schools received an “A” rating from the school aggregator. Only East Bradford did not. It received an A-. See how each school ranked here.
Speaking of a West Chester education, high fives to Christian Miller. The Stetson student claimed first prize in this year’s Chester County Spelling Bee after successfully spelling “formulaic.”
“I’m glad that the studying paid off,” Christian said about his win. He will now head to National Harbor, MD in May to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Also, this week big congratulations to West Chester author Stephanie Henson on publishing her second book in three months(!) Stephanie’s books focus on promoting social and emotional learning among middle school children. Her first book “In the Right Lane,” a poetry book that helps to build confidence and motivation among middle schoolers, hit #1 on the new release list among Children’s Poetry ebooks in December.
Now she’s out with her second book, “BeTween Now and Later,” a collection of SEL-inspired short stories about friendship, building confidence, and dealing with pesky growing-up issues.
“I chose to focus on SEL for middle school because I struggled greatly at that age,” said Stephanie. “I was bullied and did not know how to manage my emotions at all. Things are so “big” in a teen/tweens life and having the right tools and motivation to be your own person is vital. Building self-confidence and believing in yourself is something I needed at that age, which is why I wrote it.”
“Poetry is making a comeback and is more accessible for kids than it has ever been and I am happy to be a part of that,” said Stephanie.
And finally, kudos to Horace Pippin. The self-taught artist rose to acclaim during the early 20th century thanks in part to his bold, highly stylized portrayals of slavery and racial segregation in the U.S. Now, a little over three-quarters of a century after his death the West Chester artist is getting his due – with a year of his own. On Tuesday, Mayor DeBaptiste proclaimed 2023 as the Year of Horace Pippin. Keep an eye out for events throughout the year commemorating the painter including a family-friendly community event planned for July.
Get ready to say hello to even more WCU students. Earlier this month West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino signed a joint agreement with Reading Area Community College making it easier for RACC students to continue their education at WCU. Under the terms of the agreement, RACC students who have completed an associate degree will be able to transfer seamlessly to WCU with a renewable scholarship and priority housing. A win for access but another potential strain on an already groaning housing situation.
“Much like RACC, WCU is committed to the success of all students from every point of entry, and we take pride in doing whatever it takes to help students cross the finish line to graduation. At the same time, providing our students with access to a quality education at a reasonable cost is an uncompromising priority. We welcome being the next step in the academic plans of numerous RACC graduates,” President Fiorentino said in a statement.
However, while the University was approving expansion plans, those with admission in hand were once again flinging criticisms at administrators over what they feel is already an over-capacity campus.
“If you cannot provide fair publicly owned housing to all your students, is West Chester University truly accessible and affordable?” WCUPA Students for Socialism and Liberation asked in an open letter to administrators. Student organizers held another protest and what they are calling a “mini sit-in” at the housing office this week.
Also, this week, some “nice to see you”s:
Closed since this summer, Saucey’s is coming back. According to a post on Instagram, the pizza shop is coming back under new management.
“Stay tuned for our Grand Opening at the end of the month,” a post last week stated. However, since they couldn’t bother to remove the watermarks on their “we’re back” image, I am still “wait and see” on this one.
Also, making their big comeback, America’s Pie. After suffering a fire at the start of the year, the family-owned pizzeria made its return last week, fittingly, on National Pizza Day.
“Coming back from this fire was a struggle. An unimaginable amount of time, money, and work went into fixing and redesigning the store. It will take us a long time to recoup but we’re ready to put the work and time in!” the company shared on Instagram.
And finally, a long-postponed East Bradford/West Chester pedestrian improvement project is said to be back on track. The two governments are working together to provide a suitable walking path from Marshall Street and the Audubon Pointe Apartments in the Borough to the Bradford Plaza shopping center. For some West Chester residents, this may mean finally having a suitable walking path to a supermarket. Think paved sidewalks, ADA-accessible entry, and pedestrian crossing signals on Downingtown Pike. The project originally planned for 2021 was first delayed over costs and then waited for PennDot approval. It should proceed quickly now.
“It’s a pretty straightforward project so once it starts it should be done,” said Sustainability Director Will WIlliams.
If this week’s mild temps have you thinking of summer, there is some good news coming from the West Chester YMCA. The branch is finally saying goodbye to a separate membership fee for outdoor pool use. For the first time since it opened in 2008, members will be able to access the outdoor pool as part of the regular membership – as long as they are active members by March 31.
This could be especially interesting news to current ACAC members who reportedly saw their membership fees increase for the second year in a row. “It’s been a $25 increase a month to our memberships within 3 years,” one member shared on Nextdoor. Inflation was given as the reason for the increase.
Also this week, a “we wish you were here,” to the slide at Kathy McBratnie Park. Those waiting on the return of said slide will have to wait a bit longer. According to this month’s West Chester Park and Rec Report, the wrong hardware was sent with the replacement equipment so installation will be delayed until new hardware arrives.
Finally, in a sign the Crebilly Farm saga may be in its final throes, Westtown Township announced it has received another $2.15 million in funding to go toward the purchase of conversation easements. The easements will be used to secure four parcels of land covering 102 acres of the former Crebilly Farm. This is in addition to $6 million in previously announced DCNR grants.
“Westtown is extremely grateful to the County Commissioners and their dedicated staff for their commitment to the future of Crebilly Farms and open space preservation,” the township shared in a statement.
Pay it forward.
Give me your taffeta, your sequin, your satin gowns yearning to be free. That’s right West Chester Area High School Prom Shops are back! All three high schools are accepting donations of gently used prom dresses, shoes, and accessories.
Items can be dropped off at the front office of each school as well as at the East Goshen Township buildings. All received items will be made available at the “shops” for students to take for free.
- Rustin will be collecting through March 10
- Henderson will be collecting through April 24
- East will be collecting through May 12.
The Rustin Prom Shop will open on March 15 in the library. Dates for the Henderson and East shops are not available yet.
And finally a reminder, West Chester Porchfest is still looking for bands and porches. “Porchfest is a free, family-friendly, and walkable music festival where neighbors offer their front porches as stages,” said Porchfest volunteer Renee Perna. “We are looking for bands, musicians, or instrumentalists to entertain neighbors with their acoustic or electric music.”
Sound like fun? Fill out the appropriate form and someone will be in touch. Porchfest will be held on May 20. Rain date is May 21. Deadline to register is April 1.
Speaking of fun West Chester events, the West Chester Film Festival is looking for help designing this year’s movie poster. Want to see your artwork on the big screen and taped up all over West Chester? Design a poster for the 17th annual West Chester Film Festival and enter it in their poster design contest. The winner not only gets visibility but also tickets to the weekend’s events. Deadline for submission is Feb. 25.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? After a brief reprieve last weekend we are once again being sucked into a vortex of birthday parties and sporting events. Then can you believe Fat Tuesday is, well, Tuesday? After all the Valentine’s Day treats, I am not sure I am ready for excess again but if you are, Carlino’s bomboloni look wonderful.
If you are hanging around this weekend, East Goshen is hosting its first-ever cubing tournament. It’s open to Rubiks Cube masters ages 5 to 12. Also, it’s Rammy’s Birthday on Saturday the party is free with a ticket to the Men’s or Women’s basketball game – and finally, it’s the last weekend for Uptown’s performance of “The Mountaintop.” If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend.
Speaking of inspiring, did you catch my profile of Amy Schneider, former tv reporter for ABC7 in DC? That schedule?! I had no idea.
And this week a very special thank you to The Lorgus Company which is returning as this week’s lead sponsor. Lorgus Company manages a 19-suite, five-floor office building conveniently located at the corner of High and Miner Streets. The charming brick building features historical details like exposed plaster on the ground floor showing a drawing made by a workman and the date “1847.”
The Lorgus Company manages the beautiful Greek Revival building at 103 S. High Street – home to 19 office suites and, once, 19th-century impressionist artist Mary Cassatt. As you enter you are greeted by a mural from New England artist Janet Reed. The mural was rescued from 120 N. Church Street. (You learn something new every day!)
If you enjoy being part of this community, maybe consider a donation? I figure if regular readers contribute just $10 a year we can keep the updates coming and the ads limited!
Mark your calendars:
- Final weekend! Feb. 17 – Feb. 19, The Mountain Top, Uptown Theater, 7 p.m. A fictional reimagination of Martin Luther King’s missing minutes on April 3, a poetic and gripping inspiration from Tony Award-nominee and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall. Evening showings Wed. – Sat.; matinees available on Sun., Tues. and Wed. Check the website for complete dates, time and pricing.
- Feb. 17 – Youth Cubing Tournament, East Goshen Township Building, 4 – 6 p.m., Open to kids 5 -12; BYOC – join East Goshen for their first ever Rubiks cubing tournament! This is a free event. Registration required.
- Feb. 18 – Rammy’s Birthday Party, WCU Hollinger Fieldhouse, 1 – 4:30 p.m. Bounce house, photo booth, face painting, magician and balloon artist. TIckets: $10 – includes access to the Women’s and Men’s basketball games.
- Feb. 18 – Teen Night Saturday Night, Melton Center, 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. $5 entry all you can play basketball. This weekly event is open to students 13 -17 years old. Current Student ID required.
- Feb. 18 – Cookies and Beer, Artillery Brewing, 2 – 5 p.m. Enjoy your Girl Scout favorites paired with Artillery brews.
- Feb. 19 – Galentine Party, Pine + Quil, 12 – 3 p.m. Make your own candle while sipping mimosas and nibbling snacks. 15% shopping discount to all that attend. No registration required.
- Feb. 21 – Fat Tuesday
- Feb. 22 – National Margarita Day, Mas, Live music 8 – 11 p.m., $5 Margaritas all-day!
- Feb. 22 – Student Advocacy as a Catalyst for Sustainable and Social Change, Sykes Student Union 255 A/B or Zoom, 12 – 12:50 p.m. Presented by WCU faculty and at 50 minutes each, these seminars introduce an array of sustainability topics in easily digestible segments. Presentation are free and open to the public. For Zoom use the link above and passcode: 878376
- Feb. 23 – The Linda Ronstadt Experience, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $40 in advance; $45 at the door.
- Feb. 24 – Blood Drive, Oscar Laskso YMCA, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Donors encouraged to schedule in advance via the American Red Cross website. Enter sponsor code “Senator Comitta” or call 1-800-RedCross. Walk-ins will be accepted based on availability.
- Feb. 24 – Painting for a Cause, Chester County Art Association, 6-9 p.m. Event costs $50 and includes all painting supplies wine and snacks. Proceeds benefit Act in Faith.
- Feb. 24 – Sugar Mountain: Celebrating Neil Young, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $40 in advance; $45 at the door.
- Feb. 25 – Opening of exhibit honoring: the U.S. Army’s First Black Helicopter Pilot, American Helicopter Museum, 2:30 p.m. Daughters of Captain Joseph Hairston will speak about the life of their father prior to the opening of the exhibit. Ceremony and access to the new exhibit is included with the price of admission to the museum.
- Feb. 25 – Dancing Dream: ABBA Tribute, Uptown Theater, 8 p.m. Tickets $45 in advance; $50 at the door.
- Feb. 25 – Teen Night Saturday Night, Melton Center, 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. $5 entry all you can play basketball. This weekly event is open to students 13 -17 years old. Current Student ID required.
- Feb. 26 – Community Cuts, Elevate Hair Studio. Elevate Hair Studio is offering free hair cuts to any one in the community who may need one and cannot afford one. To participate give them a call at 610-696-9100 and reserve your spot.
- Feb. 26 – Hair-A-Thon, Simply Men’s Barber Shop, 12 – 4 p.m. Donations support Alex, 14, who is battling Stage 2 Lymphoma. Call 484-887-0635 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation.
- Feb. 26 – Mar. 5 – West Chester Restaurant Week, downtown West Chester. There are 24 restaurants participating each will present multi-course a prix fixe menu at either $30, $40 or $50/plate. Reservations encouraged.
- Feb. 28 – WCU 2023 Annual Business Idea Competition submissions due. West Chester University’s annual non commercialized, new business grant funding competition is back! Awards made to high school students, university students, alumni/staff and general public.
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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